The Adirondack chair is one of the most popular pieces of furniture for backyards. It’s a classic, stylish, and simple design that has been around for decades. But there’s more to this chair than meets the eye. This article will explore all you need to know about these iconic chairs!
The History of the Adirondack Chair
Thomas Lee invented the iconic Adirondack Chair. Originally from Massachusetts, Lee had a summer home in the small town of Westport on Lake Champlain and wanted to create a comfortable furniture item that could handle the rugged terrain.
After inventing the chair what he considered as the perfect chair, Lee brought his design to Harry Bunnell to create in an ancestral carpentry workshop. The chair was then gradually modified and patented by Bunnell in 1904.
The Westport chair became increasingly popular as its durability and comfort level increased. As the years passed, the design of this comfortable chair began to evolve into what is today known as an Adirondack chair.
After 20 years of chair-making business, Bunnell eventually developed the Westport chair that became very popular because of its durability and comfort level and as the years passed, the design began to change into today’s Adirondack chair.
The Westport Chair differed from the Adirondack chair because it was made with a single plank of wood, leaving knots exposed. The Adirondack Chair went on to become an updated design which became popular in recent years.
One of the changes to the chair that led to its triumph was a design patented by Irving Wolpin in 1938. Referred to as a “lawn chair,” his model featured slanted-back and armrests similar to those found on the Westport chair, along with a rounded back and contoured seat. Today, Wolpin’s design is the most commonly copied Adirondack chair when compared to others.
The Adirondack chair has existed in many variations, but each is still inspired by its original creator’s Westport Chair.
What Makes the Adirondack Chair So Special?
“Adirondack chairs are a great example of how creativity and functionality intersect,” explains Brady Maller, executive vice president of strategy and sales for POLYWOOD furniture. An Indiana company is credited with inventing the first outdoor couches made from recycled plastic materials in 1990; they now process more than 400,000 milk jugs each day into their products.
The Adirondack chair, most often associated with summertime stories of fishing and long days at the beach, has a greater purpose than meets the eye. This chair is known for being more aesthetically pleasing; it subtly decorates outdoor spaces from backyards to patios. Functionally speaking, this type of furniture offers several benefits.
Because of their contoured designs, Adirondack chairs are more comfortable than other types of lawn chairs, observes that John Linden, a Los Angeles, interior designer. In order to recline or rest in your chair, you need extra cushions and pillows with this type of chair versus the typical folding chair.
What Is the Ideal Type of Wood for an Adirondack Chair?
One of the many things to consider when purchasing an Adirondack chair is what type of material it’s made out of. The four main types are teak, aluminum, HDPE lumber, or injection molded plastic.
This wood is one of the best for outdoor furniture because it weathers better than most other woods (it’s completely resistant to wind, water, and rust). It can stay outside year-round and comes in one color. However, it needs considerable care – including regular rubdown and treatment with preservative – to avoid a silver patina.
Aluminum is a lightweight, durable metal that’s inexpensive and resistant to water and rust. Aluminum can’t be left outside year-round because it won’t protect against wind gusts.
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Lumber
It is a weatherproof building material used to build solid, long-lasting, durable outdoor furniture. Its low cost is offset by the luxury and comfort it provides. Manufactured to last a lifetime, it stays looking great with minimal upkeep of just minutes each day after being scrubbed down with a dish.
Injection Molded Plastic
Compared to other seating, injection-molded plastic may not be luxurious. But injection molded chairs are cost-effective and easily maintained with a damp cloth and dish soap. They’re the perfect outdoor chair for a spare visitor or when guests come over because they can withstand the elements all year long, whereas weathering will eventually ruin them if left outside from season to season.
The Adirondack chair is traditionally made of wood, but plastic lumber has become popular too. Maller claims that “while the original Adirondack chair was a cedar wood plank design.” he says, “the 1980s recycling movement and the birth of recycled plastic lumber have given consumers an option for both long-term durability and many different low maintenances.
What Material Creates The Most Comfortable Adirondack Chair?
After spending a few days in the Adirondacks, Linden learned teak wood is best for comfortable chairs. They prefer this choice because it balances comfy and sturdy well. Maller argued that durable teak wood was better due to high comfort levels with built-in flex characteristics.
“Accessorizing your Adirondack chair can make it more comfortable,” Maller says. “We recommend ottomans or footstools to cradle the legs, cushions for headrest pillows so you can sink back and relax.”
When it comes to the selection of color or finish, you may be limited if you opt for a teak or aluminum Adirondack chair. This isn’t true of injection-molded plastic and HDPE lumber, which are available in beautiful earthy tones as well as more vibrant colors red, yellow blue.
There are several color options for those who’re looking for a more modern look, or a natural one can be achieved with brown or green.
How Much Does an Adirondack Chair Cost?
“The price of an Adirondack chair ranges greatly, anywhere from $20-$200,” says Linden. “The more expensive the chair, the higher quality materials it is made of.”
There exist many variations of Adirondack chairs on the market, with some being much more expensive than others. According to Maller, this is because not all versions of this piece of furniture are made equally. “Often,” he says, “what looks like a more expensive option comes with generational no-hassle warranties and low maintenance.
How durable are Adirondack chairs?
There is no single answer to this question. Adirondack chairs are typically made from a variety of materials and can last for years or decades, depending on environmental conditions.
“For less-demanding outdoor environments, most materials can last a long time with regular maintenance,” says Maller. “Recycled plastic lumber is low-maintenance and will last for generations in harsher conditions such as coastal living or hot, sunny climates.”
Wood often needs time-consuming annual refinishing to maintain its quality, while plastic has a nice spring soap and water bath with the downside being that it is a maintenance-free generational product.
Linden explains, “Adirondack chairs, especially those made from teak or aluminum, can last a lifetime once you purchase them. Aluminum is water- and rust-resistant, while teak requires occasional treatment to prevent wear and color loss.”
Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Adirondack chairs.
What are the similarities and differences between an Adirondack and Muskoka chair?
These two chairs may seem similar at first, but they have some slight differences. Adirondacks are larger and higher than Muskoka chairs.
Why do Adirondack chairs tend to be more expensive than other types of outdoor furniture?
Adirondack chairs are expensive because they are durable and require little maintenance.
Which type of Adirondack chair is best: wood or plastic?
Plastic Adirondack chairs are easy to maintain because they withstand both outdoor stains and sealant best. On the other hand, wood Adirondack chairs offer a more heavy weight-bearing capacity and longer lifespan.
How can I best care for my wooden Adirondack chair?
Wooden Adirondack chairs don’t need much maintenance, but they should be given a fresh coat of paint every so often.
A good way to protect them from the elements is to apply a few layers of thick, durable paint on top of bare wood. To ensure that your chair lasts longer, try painting it right after cleaning.